Easier Creation of Basic Apps Raises the Challenge of Search and Discovery
Recently I attended the BlackBerry Jam developer conference in Amsterdam. This event saw over 1,000 of the top BlackBerry developers in Europe getting together to learn about the new BlackBerry 10 platform and tools.
If I'm honest I had pretty low expectations for the event. I have no programming experience and when I arrived there was certainly no question I was overdressed for a gathering of software developers. However, things turned out a little differently than I had expected. I never thought I'd leave Amsterdam having written and published an app — but that's just what happened.
During the event I had the good fortune to meet a small UK company called Mippin, which has developed a set of developer tools for people like me. These make it possible to create simple apps for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone as well as Web apps using HMTL5.
In the case of BlackBerry, Mippin has put together the BlackBerry App Generator. It's not the first of such tools: Mippin helped Nokia created the Ovi App Wizard some years ago, and this has morphed into Xpress Web App Builder, which makes it possible to create Nokia Series 40 apps.
Mippin's representatives in Amsterdam challenged me to create my first app. At first I was sceptical, but as someone who likes a challenge and believes it's important to actually try things out rather than just write about them, I decided to give it a go. To my amazement within 10 minutes I already had a basic application created and within half an hour I'd polished up the app and it was ready to publish.
Now I should mention that I was able to draw on the fact that at CCS Insight we use some standard Web services and platforms: RSS, Flickr for photos and YouTube for video. This made the creation process easier, and I certainly don't want to compare my efforts to work done by the very talented developers creating amazing and highly complex applications.
Nevertheless, the CCS Insight BlackBerry app performs exactly what is asked of it, and based on the feedback we've had from several people so far, it's a useful addition to people's mobile devices. It goes much further than a simple Web app, as it exploits libraries offered with BlackBerry 10 through the Cascades framework, providing a menu option and the ability to share content via e-mail, social networks or the BlackBerry Messenger service.
For me, it's an example of how app development has been democratised. A decade ago you probably would have needed a computer science degree to build an app like this. Now it only takes a few clicks on a Web site (plus some very clever software behind that site), allowing virtually anyone to create an app.
So what does this mean? We expect about 900 million smartphones to be sold in 2013, and that's in addition to the 1 billion that are already in people's pockets. The smartphone is the PC of our generation, and one of the most likely ways people will access the Internet. Every business will need an app, and it seems there's no longer an excuse not to have one.
But creating an app and bringing it to people's attention are two different things. The challenge has moved from basic development to search and discovery within app stores. If it's now that easy to create a simple app, how on earth are people going to find them all?
If you would like to download the CCS Insight app for BlackBerry devices, you can find it at
It works on the new BlackBerry Z10 as well as most other BlackBerry devices.
Find CCS Insight's latest research about BlackBerry here: